Saturday, January 19, 2019

Vintage Jesus Year C, Epiphany 2, John 2.1-11,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Amen
“Woman, my hour has not yet come.”
These were the words Jesus spoke to his mother Mary that day in Cana.
Mary responds to that by telling the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do.  It was as though Mary was indirectly saying to Jesus, “Yes, your hour has come.  Do something.”
The miracle story concludes by saying “Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
Mary is mentioned in the Gospel of John in two places only.  This is the first.
The second place is at the foot of the cross:
“Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”
As Jesus prayed with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion he said “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, .  .  .”
In this way, these events at the beginning of Jesus ministry point us to the cross, and the purpose of his ministry.  And just to help us see that, Mary is present on both occasions, pointing to the gift of her son.
John the Baptist introduces Jesus at his baptism with the words: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Then, at the end of the Gospel, Jesus is crucified at the very time the Passover Lambs are being sacrificed in the Temple.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
“Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son”.
Water turned to wine, and then at the cross from Jesus’ pierced side flowed water and blood.
Everything points to Jesus, his hour, and his glory, all of which is accomplished on the cross.
As he breathed his last, he simply says:  “It is finished.”

John differs from the other Gospels in many ways.  One of the most obvious is that Jesus never celebrates the Passover with his disciples in Jerusalem in John’s Gospel.  Instead, in the Gospel of John as Jesus gathers with his disciples on the night prior to his crucifixion he washes their feet and gives them the new commandment, that they love one another even as he first loved them.
But there is no “this is my body, this is my blood” in the Gospel of John.
Instead, throughout John’s presentation of the entirety of Jesus’ ministry is interwoven with Eucharistic images, and centers on the bread and the wine.
Following the feeding of the five thousand in John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about the bread of life:
I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
Here at the Wedding in Cana we have Jesus providing a prodigious amount of wine, 180 gallons worth.  Wine that is drawn from the jars set aside for the Jewish rite of purification.  The finest wine.
This is my body.  This is my blood.  Given.  Shed. That your sins might be forgiven.

 I have struggled with the wedding at Cana miracle.
To put it bluntly, in my experience booze at weddings has been more of a problem than a blessing.
In the prayer of the day in the marriage service there is the phrase “as you gladdened the wedding at Cana in Galilee by the presence of your Son, so bring your joy to this wedding by his presence now.”
This “gladdening” and bringing joy to a wedding, referring to a time when Jesus made water into wine always seemed like a strange prayer to offer at a wedding.
But even more strange, in my mind, was that the first miracle of Jesus would involve alcohol, and a lot of it.
Was Jesus’ purpose to provide the booze, and get people really drunk?
Well, of course not.  It’s not about the alcohol.
It’s about Jesus blood, poured out for the forgiveness of sins.
There is an irony about this miracle.
Many an alcoholic has used the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine as a justification of their drinking. 
And not only alcoholics, but many others as well have seen this as an affirmation of alcoholic beverages in general.
Is that the sign Jesus offered and the revelation of his glory?
Well of course not, it’s not about the alcohol.
The irony is that people like me, who have struggled with our own failings as a result of alcoholism, need the forgiveness offered through Jesus body and blood, but have instead been encouraged to continue drinking because of Jesus using wine himself, and here, making a bunch of it.
Given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sin.

The water turned to wine, points to the cross.
It also points to the marriage feast of the Lamb.
In Revelation John writes:
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunderpeals, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
8 to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure"—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, "Write this:  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
From Cana, to the cross, at the altar, and the marriage feast of the Lamb, wine points us to the Christ, and his saving work.
The marriage at Cana anticipates the marriage feast of the Lamb, where we will be joined together with Christ.
In the beginning, at creation, it is written that in marriage “the two become one flesh”.
In Jesus’ high priestly prayer in the 17th chapter of John he prays:
"I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one.”
This is a mystery.
As we share in Christ’s body and blood, we become one flesh with him.  That is the meaning of “communion”, literally, to ‘come’ into ‘union’.
These are images of marriage and of our being joined with Christ.
Upon tasting the water that had become wine, the steward said to the bridegroom:
"Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now."
And so it shall be.
The finest wine will be saved till the last when we drink of it anew in the Kingdom of Heaven.
And the wine that we drink, will be the cup of salvation that is prepared for us through the death and resurrection of Christ, his body and blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

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